One of the most beautiful phrases in all of Scripture (at least in my reading) is “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” (Luke 24:28)
The story preceding this phrase is a wonderful scene. Two men. Walking down a road. Downtrodden. Confused. Hurt. Insulted. Struggling to cope with what has become their reality.
Their Messiah, or at least the One they thought was their Messiah, is dead. Hope crushed. Dreams dashed.
It’s the ending that no one ever dreamt would come. This Man was supposed to be the Rescuer. He was supposed to be the one who would make all things right again. Who would, as John said, bring light into darkness [John 1].
But, tragedy strikes. And these two men are left to deal with it. And all they can think to do is walk home.
On their journey, they are face-to-face with a stranger. Together they walk and talk, and when they reach their destination, they–in true “warm culture” fashion–invite the stranger to stay.
“Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.”
Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.”
Or, as they would say in modern-day Central Asia, “Come in for çay (tea).”
Not a question. A statement.
Not a suggestion. A presumption.
The risk with this invitation is it’s ability to be life-altering. Intently, these men have listened as this Stranger has talked to them about the goings-on in Jerusalem. Intently, they have listened as He explained centuries worth of prophecies and Rabbinical thought. And, now, they ask Him to stay for dinner. Perhaps it is so that He can tell more stories. Share more thoughts.
What these men didn’t know was they were inviting Jesus–the Messiah–to stay with them.
And, then, it happens. Reality itself changes. Their Messiah is alive and in the same room with them. Hope restored. Dreams renewed. Life revealed.
What a story. A simple walk and an unexpected dinner guest, changes everything about their present reality.
And, here we are today, some in dark reality, some in hopelessness, some in confusion, some in just moments of tiredness. And, there He is, the Stranger walking next to you. Wanting to talk with you about that reality.
Will you invite Him in for a cup of çay?